I took piano lessons for about six years when I was young. Even now, I remember most days, 30 minutes a day—over 40,000 minutes—sitting on a wooden bench, dreading every single minute.

Practice – to regularly, habitually, repeatedly perform so as to acquire or maintain proficiency

It is just as uninspiring to an adult as it is to a child. Yet this is often how we approach the development of important organizational skills. We select the competencies, tailor the content and set up the lessons—and they practice what we preach.

Let’s migrate from verb to noun:

Practice – a craft or profession, as in medicine or the fine arts … routine action, habit or behavior

How does that feel? Just change how you think about a leader’s “practice,” and all the dissonance, all the discord, just melts away. Your leadership practice is made up of your habits, methods, traditions and customs. Your practice is made up of what you put into your leading. Adopt the noun; banish the verb!

Somewhere between my teens and 20s, I began my life’s practice. I put music into it, just as I’ve put the Spanish language, the applied behavioral sciences, playing soccer and trail-riding on horseback into it. They’re all what I’ve put into my life.

Are you building your leader’s practice—or are you just practicing?

Let’s do something different:

  1. Invest six minutes in a video on YouTube. Let Sean Stephenson walk you through developing a “when life works” list: a list of what you might want to put more of into your life to be more effective in leading others.
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, Learn from the mistakes of others, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Find a teacher who can guide you in growing the skills you want to develop.

Stop practicing. Start building your leadership practice today. Don’t wait.